Despite an ominous weather forecast, the return of the Festival of the Falling Leaf’s parade and gala day was a roaring success with organisers estimating over 5,000 people lined Tumut’s streets to celebrate.
Organiser Doug Martin said local reception to the day has shown the parade has well and truly returned, at least for now.
“We couldn’t have wished for anything better,” Mr Martin said.
“The response was over the top. It could have gone anyway because the year before the consensus was parades are old hat and the committee didn’t have the people power to make it happen. It’s definitely happening next year, after that someone else will have to step in.”
Already thinking about next year, Mr Martin said the future will be about building on the day’s success and fixing the minor teething issues encountered.
“The budget is a bit limited this year because we didn’t know what to expect so we screwed down on entertainment but next year we have a better starting point and know what to expect,” he said.
Mr Martin said the sight of children and adults lining the street as floats, characters and schools marched past giving away goodies, was reminiscent of the festival’s hay day.
“It was wonderful, better than we could have ever expected. People were five deep around the round-a-bout, it was chockers, people we’re everywhere,” he said.
“It’s as good as or better than our expectations. I haven’t heard any complaints about the layout, there’ll be a few adjustments next year, nothing major. Everything worked well and there were no real dramas on the day.”
Stallholders, kids entertainment providers and float makers have all heaped heavy praise on the day, the vast majority vowing to return next year.
“The children’s entertainment was great, I think they all had a good day. The balloon animal man and child juggler were great, very popular,” he said.
“I did a lap of the stalls at 9am when they were setting up and they were all very worried no one was in the street, I just said wait until 11am. I went back around 3pm and all bar one have committed to come back.”
One of the most successful aspects of the revival was the creation of a food court in the Commercial car park
“The food court was wonderful it was a great idea, a great area and it just worked,” he said.
“Steve from the Commercial was great, he really helped in so many ways, providing the space and power.”
Mr Martin said after last year’s catastrophic cancellation the success of this year’s gala day came down to the dedicated commitment of organisers, local businesses and community members willing to step up to help out.
“I was so impressed with everyone and all the workers on the day, Jane and everyone from Coles were a great help, Narrissa Watts, her sister Alisha and Michelle Roddy took charge of the entertainment, Peter Jones and the RFS once again just got the job done. Rotary, Rod Blundell and of course Shelley Jones and the Comm Dev team and Mendie Skein who organised the stallholders,” he said.
“Andrew James who is the president of the festival committee really got into it and took on a lot of the bits and pieces that needed sorting on the day, and Cheryl Adam-Graham of Westpac let us use power and access her balcony at the last minute. It’s these people and many more who made the day possible and a success.”
Despite the successful return of the parade Mr Martin warns the community not to become complacent believing it’s safe.
“It’ll be on next year because I’ve committed to two years, after that I don’t know. Someone needs to step up,” he said.
“Even so we really do need help, especially guys who can do some heavy lifting, we need workers and I’d love if we got a secretary.”